Hungarian Parliament amends Fundamental Law, abolishing possibility of presidential pardon for offenders convicted of crimes against children

June 11. 2024. – 03:33 PM



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The Hungarian Parliament amended the Fundamental Law for the 13th time on Tuesday. In the wake of the pardoning scandal, according to the amendment, no presidential pardon can be granted to persons who have committed crimes against children.

The amendment is a clear response to the Bicske scandal which shook the country at the beginning of the year. In April 2023, on account of the Pope's visit to Hungary, President Katalin Novák granted a presidential pardon to the deputy director of the Bicske children's home who had assisted the director in coercing children who had previously testified about the director having sexually abused them to withdraw their testimonies. As a result, both President Novák and former Justice Minister Judit Varga, who countersigned the pardon resigned, and so did pastor Zoltán Balog from the presidency of the Synod of the Hungarian Reformed Church, as he was also implicated, due to his campaigning for the pardon.

The amendment to the Child Protection Act was also adopted, which, among other things, introduces stricter penalties for paedophile offences, enforces more stringent conditions pertaining to adults working in children's camps, and abolishes the statute of limitations for sexual offences committed against minors. It also prohibits those who have committed such offences from obtaining a certificate of good conduct, and tightens the supervision of institutions caring for children along with the rules applicable to the staff working there. Ilona Boros, manager of the Equality Project at the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (TASZ), previously told Telex that these restrictions run counter to what could have been learned from the Bicske case.

Political statement on the activities of left-wing MEPs

In March this year, the Parliament's European Affairs Committee decided to investigate whether certain "left-wing" MEPs had indeed been responsible for several recent EU proceedings having been launched against Hungary. According to information on the Parliament's website, Zoltán Tessely, a Fidesz MEP, became chairman of the committee in March this year, and Tamás Menczer became one of its vice-chairmen a month later. The committee also includes opposition MPs from DK, Jobbik, as well as András Fekete-Győr from Momentum.

The committee investigated the subject going as far back as 2018, and found that the European Union's system of rules does not allow for the sanctioning of governments, only countries, thus "left-wing politicians (...) have caused and continue to cause serious damage to Hungary and the Hungarian people by preventing EU funds from reaching Hungary." The report's explanatory note makes it clear about halfway through that the MEPs referred to are Hungarian MEPs, and therefore the committee has called on the Sovereignty Protection Authority to investigate them because their activities could raise "suspicions of manipulating information and activities related to disinformation". The committee's report was adopted by Parliament.

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